‘I’ve Got Nothing Left’: Brent Draper Quits MasterChef Australia Citing Mental Health

In one of the most heartbreaking eliminations yet, Brent Draper left the competition, prioritising his mental health.

The loveable larrikin has been a fan favourite in the competition, with his finessed food and ability to use his tradie background to create precise dishes making him one to watch throughout the competition.

But in recent episodes, Brent began to take even the most positive criticism quite hard, with Jock Zonfrillo even inquiring about his state of mind in an earlier episode. On Sunday night, following a head-to-head challenge, Brent raised his hand and informed the judges that he had “nothing left”.

“I can’t cook,” he announced to the judges, “just mentally, I’m not there.”

MasterChef Australia Brent Jock Worry Beads

The moment shocked the judges and Brent’s fellow contestants, with Jock telling 10 play how difficult he found it being in the room and witnessing Brent’s brave confession.

“I suffer a bit from anxiety so I know what it feels like to have your brain ticking over,” Jock said.

“Obviously we’ve got a psychologist on set, but it’s not like we hang contestants out to dry and don’t support them through any of this stuff,” he added, “I’m hyper-aware of it because of my own issues.

“When I saw it unfolding — we’re there, we’re supporting — but to get to what happened on Sunday night is something that the person themselves needs to arrive at. We can’t push someone in any kind of direction. We can just support them to arrive at the decision they feel they need to make.”

Speaking to Jock, Brent said he had never experienced something like this before, telling the judge, “I just can’t get out of my head. It’s just affecting my cook, my sleep. Everything. I don’t want to, but I think it’s the only thing… I think I’ve come to the point where all that’s going to help me, getting home, sorting myself out.”

MasterChef Australia Brent Jock Worry Beads

“I sat and I gave him the space to talk and made sure he was comfortable with his decision,” Jock told 10 play.

As the pair sat and spoke openly about Brent’s decision to leave the competition and return to his family, a rare moment was captured with two men speaking honestly about mental health.

“I hope it is something that people recognise as a genuine moment that happened, and not only that but that it is alright to be open about it — and the incredible bravery that I think Brent showed by not only sticking his hand up, but sticking his hand up on what he knows is going to be national TV,” Jock said.

“It takes incredible bravery not only to stick your hand up, but just to go through that process,” Jock continued. “I’ve been in touch with him since then and he’s doing well thankfully.”

Outside the MasterChef kitchen, the pressures of the food industry, coupled with the effects of COVID on businesses, has seen many professionals struggling with mental health. Jock himself had to close the doors of his award-winning restaurant Orana late last year, knowing all too well the difficult times the food industry has gone through with rolling lockdowns and restrictions.

“My heart goes out to all those in Melbourne because it’s just relentless,” Jock said. “Relentless bad news and that absolutely has an impact on mental health. Hopefully, if anyone in the industry is watching this episode this weekend, if it inspires someone to reach out for help I’m all about it.

“We support Beyond Blue and Lifeline,” Jock continued, “these are incredibly important and relevant services for someone to reach out to when they don’t feel as if they can talk to a friend or a family member.

“You can call one of these lines and talk to somebody completely off the record and it helps! It’s the first step towards getting better.”

After making the decision to end his time in the competition Brent said, “I’m 100 percent leaving with my head held high. I’m so proud of what I’ve done here.

“By doing this, I hope I show others just to keep checking on people. You never know who’s having a tough one. I’ve got a lot of relief now, I think it’s only going to get better as I get home to my wife and Alfie… I’m going back to greatness.”

If you or anyone you know needs help or would like to speak to someone, contact Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play